Dear Lyme Disease,
You’ve been my closest companion and my greatest enemy.
You’ve taken more than you even know. You’ve taken experiences, memories, friends, family, and half of my twenties. You’ve shown me the pangs of rejection, and the fair-weathered friends to go with it. You’ve introduced me to the sharp balance between wishing and getting my hope crushed almost each day. I’ve never known such fear of the worst, and at the same time such acceptance of the worst raining down. To try to live contentedly while being followed around by a thunderstorm cloud.
You plucked me from college, placed me in the stadium seat to watch my friends graduate, and then a year later you kept me in bed so I couldn’t even walk across stage when it was my turn. You have secured my place on my couch or in bed every. single. day. without my consent. And have kept me there during all the birthday dinners, the family get-togethers, the weddings, the concerts, and the events I’ve been waiting all year for.
You have stolen my freedom.
You’ve placed me in chains on the sidelines, while everyone else I know participates in the game. As if that loneliness wasn’t enough, you’ve given me debilitating pain to go with it.
I want to hold precious babies without my arms aching, walk through the grocery store without needing the cart to lean on, lift the crock pot onto the counter myself, go to a restaurant and be able to order anything, give my husband a real hug without my body hurting to be touched, and sleep throughout the whole night without waking up needing more ice.
I hate that while I’m destroying you, you are still destroying me. Whether it be through more pain from herxing, continual misunderstanding, or loneliness. It’s almost like even as I’m “winning” by treating you, I’m still losing.
You’ve intruded on my husband’s life as well. I hate that he feels the discouraging anger of knowing he can’t protect me from you, while he watches me twitch in pain. I hate that you’ve brought him into all of this, as if you weren’t awful enough in my life alone. He hurts too, you know. He feels the ache from the lack of support and misunderstanding from people, and that no one remembers to ask how he is doing. Why must you make us ache in new ways still?
You’ve set me up for failure. So now everything I do, big or small, is a great accomplishment. Loading the dryer and emptying the dishwasher are both signs that I have “won” for ten minutes of that day.
You’ve brought me such loss through your snatching of my joy, my abilities, my people. Who do you think you are to rewrite my story in a way that leaves me out of it?! You’ve placed me inside a glass box while the world lives around me.
And you’ve brought the silence. Such deep, long, silence. The people who show their support only when they see or hear from you, then leave you in your silent suffering the rest of the days.
You’ve taken my intimacy with others. How am I supposed to connect with them when the very biggest thing about me is something they can’t understand?!
People ask me if it rained at all today, but I haven’t moved from the couch and the blinds remained closed because of my chronic head pain.
And the pain…
Thanks for introducing me to the worst ride of my life. Enduring the most pain I’ve ever had until my body shakes from the intensity and crying only brings more discomfort. I’ve never known how much pain my body can handle, and I’m left surprised that my body wakes up the next morning. You’ve made me feel as if my life is nothing more than pain, pain, pain, and is not worth this ride I didn’t ask to get on.
And even with all that…
You’ve taken away my life, and that’s given me an immense appreciation for living.
You’ve given me such depths of pain that has bridged gaps between myself and others going through hardship as well; sympathy has turned to empathy.
You crept into my relationship and stretched us hard, turning my husband from partner to caretaker, and yet we’re deeper and stronger because of it.
Our valley has increased our longing for the mountain tops.
You’ve taken away so many things, and it’s made me appreciate every. single. small. thing.
Because you’ve turned my days to gray, my eyes have been opened to a world of color.
Through you I’ve realized more about life than I knew in the beginning.
I’ve learned to stand on the line between hating all kinds of pain and welcoming it; my perspective on life has changed to accepting a life filled with the highs and lows and calling it beautiful.